MONTENEGRO: The Mini-Series. Part 3: This is why we travel

On Saturday, we took the advice of a number of different friends and drove up the coast to Kotor, a port city that now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is in what is called the southern-most fjord in Europe, although according to the ever-faithful Wikipedia the site isn’t technically a fjord. The trip took us about 90 minutes through some beautiful, winding, but narrow roads along the shore and through the bayside villages. Kotor was a major trading center and it contains numerous churches, palaces, and old homes. There also are a lot of stores but unlike those…

Ovine Assault Vehicles and Other Animal Behavior

On Wednesday night, Abby and I went to the weekly ex-pat dinner. This week’s dinner was being held at a restaurant behind the football stadium, near to the park and the Polytechnic, and about two city blocks away from the U.S. Embassy. Abby parked, and got out, opened the back door, and leaned in to get her purse. (I had already crossed the street.) As she straightened up out of the car, she saw a pack of wild animals round the corner and start heading straight toward her. I turned around too as I heard the pounding of feet along…

MONTENEGRO: The Mini-Series. Part 2: Those three hours weren’t such a loss

When we crossed the border, the landscape didn’t suddenly change in a Kansas-to-Oz manner, but we did notice some differences as we moved northward. We drove through landscaped fields, neatly mowed and divided by low stone walls in a manner that reminded Abby of Virginia. The towns seemed a bit grimy, but less than they would be in Albania; however, it was after we hit the coastline that the difference became apparent. The Montenegran Riviera is stunning. We were high up on the mountain, looking down onto a gleaming blue sea. Everything just seemed clean, even the sides of the…

Another wedding

We attended the wedding feast of one of Abby’s staff today. It was flattering to be invited, of course, and there’s no question that the Albanians know how to throw a party. Everyone was very welcoming and the food never stopped. It was a mix of traditional Albanian warmth and American styling, in a New Jersey kind of way. The feast was held a few miles outside Tirana. It was the groom’s party – the bride’s side had celebrated the night before somewhere else. (This is how they do it, traditionally I suppose so that the couple could celebrate in…

Akoma Nuk Do Të Punoj

I have received, and turned down, my first job offer. The position was a 30-day consultancy with the U.N. Development Program’s Security Sector Reform project, to write a “how-to” manual on how to form and run a Community Problem Solving Group. A CPSG is a citizens’ group that works with its local police force to identify and solve problems. These groups are the building blocks of community policing. Since I had worked on a community policing project when I was with Booz-Allen, I was interested in the job, until I learned that the 30-day project had to be done in…

MONTENEGRO: The Mini-Series. Part 1: Will they make it?

Friday the 12th was Big Bajram, the last day of Ramadan, and Abby’s office was closed, so we decided to go to Montenegro for the long weekend. Because our car has a mylar back windscreen and gaps around the rear door, we decided to rent a car, and Friday morning we went to the local Avis, which is located in the Hotel Rognor. The office was closed because it was Big Bajram, the last day of Ramadan. However, the hotel clerk called the Avis assistant manager, and she came within 10 minutes and agreed to rent us a car. However,…